Investors always like stocks that pay large dividends. Yet for years, those who focused on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index didn't expect much in the way of dividends, since many high-growth companies didn't pay any dividends at all to their shareholders. Now, even tech companies have gotten on the dividend bandwagon, and you'll find some impressive yields among the Nasdaq's top 100 stocks. Let's take a look at three high-yielding stocks to see if they can live up to their reputation.
Barbie pays a great yield -- but for how long?
When you only consider regular quarterly dividend payments, toymaker Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) tops the list of Nasdaq 100 dividend stocks, with a current yield of 6.7%. Indeed, the company has done a good job of growing its dividend over time, multiplying its payout nearly tenfold since 2003.
The problem for Mattel is that its key toy franchises have struggled lately, and as a result, the company's earnings have fallen below what it pays out in dividends. With a current payout ratio of 126% based on earnings, Mattel seems to be in danger of a dividend cut, and even when you look at free cash flow figures, the toymaker could have trouble sustaining its quarterly payout at current levels. With key franchises including Barbie, Fisher Price, and Hot Wheels, Mattel has the capacity to turn things around if it plays its cards right. If it doesn't, though, then dividend investors could end up disappointed with Mattel's future.
Navigate toward higher quarterly payouts
Also paying a good yield is Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), a pioneer in the GPS navigation field. Garmin yields more than 5.5%, and the company just raised its dividend back in June with about a 6% increase.
Like Mattel, though, Garmin faces some challenges. Its earnings have dropped below its dividend payout rate, as its bread-and-butter car navigation system business has largely given way to smartphone alternatives. Garmin still serves niche applications for specialized areas like marine and aviation use, and its fitness area has a dedicated customer base, but there too, competing products pose a long-term threat. Unless the GPS pioneer can find ways to replace the business it's likely to lose in the years to come, Garmin could end up having to reduce its payout in the long run, and that's exactly what dividend investors don't want to hear.
London calling -- with dividends
Perhaps the best prospects of the three top-yielding stocks in the Nasdaq 100 belong to U.K.-based telecom giant Vodafone Group (NASDAQ: VOD). The company is best known in the U.S. for having been a 45% owner of the Verizon Wireless mobile business before Verizon (NYSE: VZ) bought out its partner in a huge $130 billion transaction, but it also sports a yield of nearly 5% based on its payouts over the past 12 months.
Dividend investors should understand that unlike most U.S. stocks, Vodafone doesn't pay regular quarterly dividends, instead making an interim payment and a final payment each year. Still, Vodafone does have the earnings to back up its dividend payments, and it also has a huge war chest of cash that it can use to finance potential expansion plans. The telecom hopes to improve its existing network coverage in its home markets in Europe while also dedicating some of its financial resources toward expanding its presence in key emerging markets. With growth coming from acquisitions and internal efforts alike, Vodafone could easily keep cashing in on the global mobile revolution and increase its dividend payouts over time.
Nasdaq stocks aren't well-known for their dividends, and some of the dangers involved with the index's higher-yielding components show why. Nevertheless, in looking at these three high-yield dividend stocks, investors who are willing to take on substantial risk might like the potential rewards from a turnaround story at Mattel or Garmin, and those looking for more security could find Vodafone to be the most attractive choice.
Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Verizon Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.